I've been spanked.
My apologies KYHeirloomer, I made an overly simple statement. I don't know the history of heirloom produce or organic farming in Kentucky. I am aware that mega-chain grocery stores have been buying up factory farms here, Mexico and further south. Now they sell "organic" tomatoes in January and offer house label organic olive oil. I know a lot of shoppers don't pay attention to where their food comes from. I realize that most people in this country only see organic produce in chain supermarkets along with big name brand labels that offer some organic items.
I shouldn't have suggested that all heirloom produce is the same and all organic produce is the same or that one = the other. I've seen bland out of season factory farmed heirloom tomatoes at the mega-market.
The U.S. organic/heirloom/farmer's market explosion in the 90s happened at one time and doesn't have a single cause.
I live in a small rural town in Washington state. It's home to Abundant Life Seed Foundation About Abundant Life
, a seed company that has been selling rare/forgotten (organic) seed varieties since 1975. Down in Oregon is Territorial Seed Co. Territorial Seed - Vegetable and Flower Seeds at Territorial Seed Company
, selling rare (organic) seed varieties since 1982. Truck farms have been selling "heirloom" produce for a while here, regular and organic. In and around Seattle and where I live, the small organic farms are the ones growing heirloom varieties. If I walk into my small town mega-mart I'll see 4-5 varieties of non-organic Wash. state apples from the tree fruit growing region of the state, If I go to my food co-op, I'll see 10 varieties of organic apples, probably 20 over the course of the winter. Although we Northwesterners don't like to talk about it, I'm sure the California restaurant trends of the 70s and 80s created a lot of pressure(interest) on us for both rare/heirloom and organic produce.
Many heirloom varieties were salvaged and grown by people who had no interest in organic farming methods. Still, Rodale's magazine "Organic Gardening" and books have encouraged farmers and gardeners to grow obscure, rare and forgotten vegetable and fruit varieties since the 70s and before.
Small organic farms didn't invent the demand heirloom produce. They sure did help, though.